Friday, 25 July 2008

Pilgrimage from Dortyol to Iskenderun 21/07/08

Greeted by the Mediterranean on waking it's the perfect way to start the day. I get moving by 6am and don't even make 3kms before receiving an invite for breakfast. :)

The walking is perfect but it isn't long before my wonderful little beach front road meets the highway and I emerge through a construction site. The security guys call me over for tea and make jokes because there is meant to be security down by the beach stopping trespassers like myself, we conclude he must be swimming :) And I have to admit I like relaxed countries...

We are sitting around drinking tea and a guy rides in on a scooter. Only moving at around 10kms/hr one of the security guards gets up to meet him. Pulling a face then speeding off with a big smile the guy leaves the security guard blowing his whistle, red faced and cursing loudly. All the other security guys think this is incredibly funny and have a laugh when the other guy returns to the table. Noone bothers to go after the scooter though... :)

Then 5kms down the road I see two cops trying to stop a couple of trucks. The trucks are one behind the other and one cop signals to the front one and the second cop signals to the other. The first truck pulls in but the second one just keeps driving with the cop standing in the middle of the road yelling after him. The cop just shrugs at his mate and takes a seat in the police car :)

According to the map I was only meant to have 20kms to Iskanderun so you can imagine my dismay when after walking for a couple of hours a sign appears "Iskanderun - 21". Not happy, it's now 9am and I am where I thought I was at 6am :(

Walking along a highway through industrial area is never much fun but then a company appears that brings a big smile to my face...


I'd like to go to a trade fair with those business cards :) And while we are on the subject of funny names many Turks find my name incredibly amusing!

"Ben" means "me" or "I" in Turkish so a normal conversation goes...

"What's your name?"

"Ben" ("Me?")

"Yes, you"

"My name is Ben" which they take to mean "My name is, me?"

"Yes you!'

It's quite frustrating and I've tried many different things but nothing makes it easier. I tried to call myself Benjamin but then they just call me Jarmin :)

Then my surname, Dale, when pronounced phonetically is the same as a Turkish song that has some relevance to being crazy. Whenever I ask people who speak English they tell me it doesn't have a meaning but I have enough people crack up laughing and start singing the same tune after seeing my business card that I know it has meaning to a large portion of the population. I think "Ben Dale" translates to them as "I'm crazy" which is even funnier because most of them think I am because I'm walking :)

Entering Iskenderun around 5pm I find a map and go to track down the information center. Before I can enter I'm accosted by two guys offering accommodation. Normally I don't pay much attention to these guys because they obviously get commission which means my bargaining power is greatly reduced, but I like the guy in front of me so I let him lead the way.

The first hotel is way over priced at 45YTL but to save wandering around all day I offer 25YTL, which I'm sure is still more than it was worth. After a bit of banter they accept and I make myself at home. Mehmut, my guide offers to show me around to the bars in the evening...

"No, that's fine mate. Thanks anyway"

"Yes, it's no problem. I will show you around. I know good bars"

"If you want to come for a drink you are more than welcome but I'm not going to pay you to show me around" Now, I don't mind paying for company but the least I expect is to get laid...and unfortunately Mehmut isn't my type ;)

"Of course, I don't want money. No problem, no problem"

"Ok, see you at eight" I always find it hard to trust these guys no matter how friendly or helpful they are. If they make a living showing me around I must be getting ripped of somewhere. But like I said before, this guy is OK so I'll let him stick around...

I have a shower, do some writing and right on 8pm Mehmut makes an appearance. The first stop is a glasses shop to fix my sunnies then it's off for dinner and a beer. All the bars are dead so even though I'm ready for a big night I'm in bed watching a movie by eleven...

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